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V7...new kid on the block!!

The new V7

 

It has been a while in the planning but last weekend the Epic dealers were invited down to Tarifa to view, and try, the new V7 ski. Anyone familiar with the Epic range will know from the number alone that this will be an entry level ski but this really only tells half the story.

 

This is Epics first rotomolded ski, it is not the first rotomolded ski but it is the first being aimed at the entry level participant. The V8 was a revelation and a revolution in ski design, for the first time opening up the sport to those with lower skill and stability levels. The only bar to pulling in the mass participation was always the price and the fact that, as with all composite boats, the user needed to be aware and skilled enough to look after their equipment.

 

The rotomolded plastic really addresses both these issues. Price comes down to a very realistic £1100 and the plastic bombproof material opens the ski up to the casual user and even the rental market.

 

The fear of someone approaching from my end was that the new material would compromise rigidity and weight to a level that was unacceptable. The test ski we were shown in Tarifa did not disappoint though. The weight was a bearable 21kg which, we were assured, would come down to just under 20kg by the time production actually started in earnest. Actually even at 21kg it felt manageable, though of course not the same as a 10kg Elite ski!

 

Rigidity was also impressive, barring the first 12” of the ski, which in the test model had not managed to get the reinforcement material all the way to the bow, the hull was rigid enough to stand on. When held by the stern with the bow on the floor you could detect a slight bounce when you shook the boat but certainly no more than that of a glassfibre construction boat.  In the production models this will also be reduced by a CNC cut foam stringer behind the paddler extending under the seat.

 

The rear hatch is plenty big enough for a decent amount of kit and the lightweight hatch cover made of Reed Chillcheater material was incredibly successful at keeping the water out. During our test paddles this ski spent a lot of time in the surf zone and not always in the upright position. Not only did the cover remain in place but the hatch was dry after use.

 

The fittings are all the latest generation Epic fittings, the rudder we had was the Universal but it can also be fitted with the Surf or a new plastic weed-free design more suited to river and lake use. It can also take a kick up stern rudder for those who want to take it over the shallows or down river. This does not come as standard but the fitting points are built into the ski.

 

The cabling is entirely enclosed as in all the skis and adjustment in this ski is huge so even the shortest paddler will fit, which has been a sticking point with the other models.. The actual fittings in this test model  were not the final production ones which will be modified to suit the thicker material better.

 

The ski has the same closable bailer as all the recent skis, again in this test model the design of the existing bailer needs to be adjusted to suit the thicker material of the plastic skis. All these adjustments have already been made for the production run.

 

The finish on the ski surprised me, my only experience with plastic boats is the lightenings that the flatwater world uses and these skis were much smoother in finish, the decals are all molded into the ski rather than the stickers used on the race models which is really nice. The only thing I thought was a bit of a compromise was the orange tips to the ski. Again done in the mold, the sharpness of the join of the orange to the white was not 100%. I am assured it will improve but maybe perfection is not attainable in this area. I don’t know enough about production methods.  

 

Paddling the ski is the most important aspect. I am no expert in the surf but the ski  seemed to behave very well. The comments form the guys more qualified than me in this area seemed consistent in that going out through the waves felt easier than the V8 which is marginally wider with a bigger bow, and coming in the ski was more maneuverable due to it’s shorter length. To be fair I don’t think many V7 customers would take it out in the size of wave these guys were testing in, so overall I would be very confident you would not be disappointed.

 

We also tested on the flat as Epic see this ski being used on rivers and lakes as much as in the ocean. Sitting position is as comfortable as the whole Epic range, adjustment of length is simple. The narrower bow allows a really easy paddle entry and despite being considerably shorter, the paddlers view is more like the V10S than the V8. The ski was fitted with a GPS as Epic wanted to collect some data, so it was easy to see how the ski performed. Anything up to around 10kmh was easy to hold, it felt no different in effort per kmh than the V8. I maxed out at 16.9kmh at which point the hull becomes the limiting factor. As a direct comparison, I did the same test in the V8 and hit 17.5kmh. However at lower speeds the differences shrink. For those who could only reach 15.9kmh in the V7 the V8 equivalent was only 16.1 and once down to a max speed of under 15kmh the V7 and V8 were no different.

 

As an initial impression I thought the V7 had marginally less primary stability than the V8 but perhaps this was just a visual trick as the bow is narrower. However once the secondary stability kicked in the V7 and V8 are so similar I could not notice a difference. I would consider this ski the same as the V8 in these terms and would say that any paddler would be comfortable in this ski after a few minutes of paddling. For the sea kayak gang the biggest change will be giving up their “giving birth” leg position and having the knees free.

 

The potential of this ski is very exciting. It is robust, does not give the casual user the feeling of being trapped if they capsize, and offers a simple solution to those who cannot, or don’t like to, roll. It will be very capable on the rough and the flat and will excel in everything from the Liffey Decent to a tour in the lakes and up to a wild ride in 4m surf.

 

If I had to sum this ski up in the least possible number of words it would have to be…..FUN!


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